Thanks to Congress doing what it does best–delaying decision-making until programs just die and float up to the big bureaucracy in the sky–two million people who received extensions on unemployment benefits will be cut off by the end of this month. These so-called “99-ers” (for the total of 99 weeks they were on unemployment) will likely have a terrible holiday season, that is, if they’re even able to contemplate the holidays amid worries of finding a place to stay and food to eat.
If it sounds like I’m angry, it’s because I am. While it’s debatable whether Congress choosing to let the benefits expire is as fiscally responsible as they claim, or whether they’re merely passing the financial buck to the lowest common denominator, what really gets my goat is that they waited so long to address the issue.
Imagine that you’re on unemployment, you know you’re approaching the 99-week maximum, and Congress is talking about extending the benefits. They’re hemming and hawing over your very livelihood, so you hold your breath and wish and pray–for what? To have your hopes dashed, merely days before you receive your last check in the mail.
Also, this isn’t the first time a Congressional delay has had a deep, reverberating effect on the people hit hardest by the recession. This summer, 2.5 million people spent two months without unemployment aid because Congress was “dithering” (as The Huffington Post so accurately puts it) over whether to extend the benefits. It appears that we’re in the same boat now, and no one can quite predict when all this dithering will end.
Ok, a few more miscellaneous gripes, and then I’m done. The AP reports:
Congressional opponents of extending the benefits beyond this month say fiscal responsibility should come first. Republicans in the House and Senate, along with a handful of conservative Democrats, say they’re open to extending benefits, but not if it means adding to the $13.8 trillion national debt.
You know what’s fiscally responsible? Not passing a single authorization bill for any federal department, not even defense or education, tying the hands of agencies who could be hiring people and lowering the number of citizens on unemployment.
Also, can we please have an honest discussion about whether or not extending the Bush tax cuts is going to increase the national debt? Because it is, and there’s clearly more to the strategy of nation-wide economics than simply avoiding creating debt at all costs.
Lastly, can politicians stop picking and choosing issues to take stands on and pretending that the populace is too dense to realize they’re talking out of both sides of their mouths?
2 million lose jobless benefits as holidays arrive, The Associated Press
Alan Delaney, Unemployment Extension: Laid-Off Single Mom “˜Trying Not to Freak Out’, The Huffington Post